February 1, 2021

On 28 December 2020, the Victorian Minister for Planning issued a Declaration under s 192B of the Building Act 1993 (Vic) prohibiting the use of high-risk wall cladding products in certain multi-storey buildings (the Prohibition). The ban on high-risk wall cladding follows a number of high profile fires in residential apartment towers in Australia and internationally.

The Prohibition, which came into force on 1 February 2021, applies to building work conducted on certain Type A or Type B buildings, as defined by Part C1 of the Building Code of Australia, including:

  •   commercial buildings of three or more stories;
  •   residential buildings of two or more stories; and
  •   public buildings (such as hospital and school buildings) of two or more stories.

The Prohibition does not apply to non-habitable buildings and structures.

Under the Prohibition, prohibited high-risk cladding products include:

  •   aluminium composite panels (ACPs) with a core of less than 93 per cent inert mineral filler by mass in external cladding as part of a wall system; and
  •   expanded polystyrene (EPS) products used in an external insulation and finish (rendered) wall systems.

These cladding products were previously available for use in construction if the relevant building surveyor was satisfied that the material, form of construction and design met the performance requirements stipulated by the Building Code of Australia and were commonly used throughout Australia. The Prohibition, however, does not apply retrospectively to cladding products already installed nor does it apply to cladding products for which a permit has been granted or application was submitted to the relevant building surveyor prior to 1 February 2021.

Going forward, the use of banned cladding products will prohibit the building surveyor from issuing a building permit. Building companies that do not comply with the Prohibition also risk fines of up to $400,000. To reduce the risk of non-compliance, contracting parties will need to take particular care to review the project technical specifications to ensure they do not include any prohibited cladding products.

The Prohibition only applies to buildings constructed in Victoria. The Victorian government has called on other States to implement similar Prohibitions to allow for a consistent national approach.

A full copy of the Prohibition can be found here.

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